Chipotle announced that Steve Ells, founder of the brand, stepped down as executive chairman.
Brian Niccol, who has served as CEO since February 2018, replaced him as chairman.
“I am grateful to Steve for his mentorship and guidance since I joined Chipotle two years ago,” says Niccol in a statement. “Our key strategies are working, and I am proud of the results the team has achieved. We are building a sustainable model to cultivate a better world, while enhancing value for our shareholders.”
In 1993, Ells founded the first Chipotle in Denver, and since then the fast-casual chain has grown to more than 2,600 units and 83,000 employees across the world. He stepped down as CEO in 2017 and assumed the role of executive chairman.
“Brian has proven that he is absolutely the right person to lead Chipotle forward and I’ve never been more confident about the future of this great company,” Ells says in a statement. “I am especially grateful to the employees and our valued customers over the last 27 years who helped make Chipotle the unmatched brand in fast-casual dining it is today. I look forward to following Chipotle’s continued growth and success for many years to come.”
Neil Flanzraich will continue as lead independent director.
“Steve Ells is a visionary founder who not only created a new and successful brand, but also revolutionized casual dining in 1993 with the introduction of Chipotle and the concept of ‘Food with Integrity,’” Flanzraich says in a statement. “We are grateful for all that Steve has done for Chipotle, including helping build and guide the current leadership team, and for his service as executive chairman during the last two years.”
The Board also announced that directors Matthew Paull and Paul Cappuccio will not be re-elected to the board at the 2020 Annual Meeting of Shareholders.
“Matt and Paul have been vital members of the Board through a transformational time in the company’s history,” Niccol said in a statement. “Their strategic maturity and clear-eyed business experience have benefited this company tremendously.”
The board is now comprised of seven directors, including six independents.